Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Trader Joe's True Thai Vegetable Curries

In a previous post or two, I've mentioned that 'm just not a lunch guy. It's like a necessary evil for me. Eating lunch more likely than not means I'm at work with about 5 hours of headaches in the bag and at least 3 more coming up, and honestly I just want to be alone more times than not just so I don't have to blabber about something or other. I don't *think* I'm anti-social, but I need that time to just unplug for a bit, even though I'd rather be eating with people. To me, that's about half the point of meals. It's certainly not about zeroing in to find your own table so you can blankly gaze into your iPhone while your coworkers think you're some lonely, kinda stinky jerkface who could use a shave. Eh well. It's what I do.

One thing I also do is Thai food. Love it. Trader Joe's has had some mild success with it over the years...there's only one miss I can think of (certainly not "slap another person worthy"...wait, what?)...with a big win or two (even though I'm convinced that this Thai Joe character is just a one trick pony). I guess if TJ's can make a viable, easy Thai lunch option, then I may as well check it out. Gotta eat somethin', and a little variety to the usual stuff would be great.

There's these two new True Thai Vegetable Curry options - Panang and Green. They're similar enough I'll tackle 'em both here (the panang is the one with all the pics). They're both easy to grab in a rush, cheap ($1.99 each), and both can remain in your manbag or desk drawer to keep lunch thieves away. Yes, I'm still bitter about that. For both, the curry sauce is the real star - the panang is a little spicier than the mellower green - but have rich coconut milk undertones with the usual Thai spicy suspects. Dee-lish. Both have about the same veggies in them - carrots, little babycorn buttons, cauliflower, etc, which are all kinda mushy. Not the biggest fan, although the green curry adds crunchier bamboo sticks, which make me feel like a happy chubby lil' panda gnawing away on them. Each are pretty decent with a little rice to mix in (as pictured) and zap up within a few minutes in the microwave. I suppose that, like the package says, one could mix in a little meat and they'd be good (the sauce is pretty darn good) but to me, that's not necessary to enjoy these. All in all, not a bad deal.

It's kinda funny though...I really never looked at the nutritional info on these until I started writing this post and loaded on the label pic. Is all Thai food this bad for you, with all the fat, saturated fat and sodium? Yikes. I had no idea. Must be the orice you pay for all that tasty spicy coconut milk. I guess you're gonna hafta have a real healthy dinner if you pick up one of these, like some flavored air or something.

Anyways, I'd ask Sandy her opinion on them, as a fellow Thai food lover, but the veggie mushfest that makes up the bulk of these curry cups make 'em a no-go for her. I would literally have to pin her down and clamp her nose shut to get her to try a spoonful of either one. Even though she'd probably like curry sauce itself, that's a little on the impolite side for me to do. So it's all on me this time around. I think, when all said and done, I'd rate the panang curry and green curry as about equals. I like how the panang's a little spicier, but the bamboo makes a huge difference for the green. If they were less mushy and a little more spicy, respectively...Both are about as equally bad for you, and this won't be the first time I make a nutritional knock for something. All things considered, both curries are far from the best you'll ever have, but they're good for what they are as an easy, inexpensive lunch option. I speak for both when I say...

Bottom line: Trader Joe's True Thai Vegetable Panang and Vegetable Green Curry: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

13 comments:

  1. Bummer. Just bought both of these. Wish I had seen this first....

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  2. Yeah, I just tried the panang cup last week. It was OK, though I had it by itself, no rice or anything, which isn't the best way to go. However, I found the veggies to be surprisingly un-mushy. Maybe I just didn't cook it long enough.

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  3. i think i live close enough to thai town to get cheap curry when i crave it. thanks for the review, though!

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  4. There's a frozen vegetable panang curry that's out of this world. I stock up whenever I'm there because they often run out. (It also comes with it's own rice, so that saves you a step there.) But definitely worth a try--same flavor profile, but it's not as seemingly yucky as these.

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  5. I almost grabbed these when I was at the store recently. But then I too noticed the nutritionals - and that each tiny container is actually TWO servings and those stats are for HALF. Yikes.

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  6. I just finished the panang curry. It was...okay. Not enough veggies for my liking(or too much soup)and the veggies were mushy. Which is to be expected, I suppose with a canned soup. But, if there were more (mushy)veggies, maybe I wouldn't have minded so much. Won't be buying this again.

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  7. WOW that's a lot of fat! I just bought one of these for my husband...glad I didn't look at the nutritional label first. No wonder he liked it so much.

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  8. I just tried the green one and it was extremely bland. Thankfully it was only $2, but I'm so disappointed, since the convenient size and low price were big pluses. Could use some salt or more heat.. not sure... but it really just tastes like coconut milk with a pinch of curry spice.

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  9. A while back I bought one of each of these - I tried the panang curry first and was not a fan. As you said, the veggies are mushy and it has a canned-soup taste to it. I didn't even eat half of it and threw it out. After that I wasn't too excited to try the green curry so it sat on my shelf for a while until now...I have to say that the green curry is slightly better as far as taste and mushiness of the veggies, but it still has that weird preservative-y taste to it. I definitely won't be buying them again - especially after you pointed out those nutrition facts...yikes

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  10. Thank you very much for sharing this, I'm sure that it will help me with my nutrition.
    nutritionist long island

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  11. The fat content on this thai curry is so high because of the HEALTHY fat from the coconut. The fat from coconuts is comprised mostly saturated fat which contains lauric acid, (a type of medium-chain fatty acid), whish has been shown to improve the levels of the good HDL- cholesterol and lower levels of BAD LDL- cholesterol. So consuming saturated fat from coconuts is far healthier than consuming saturated fats from things like cheese and high fat meats! :)

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    1. You are so correct! All fat is not bad for you... I hate that most people try to avoid all fats when they are actually very good for you. Trans fats are the ones to avoid. :)

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  12. The panang was pretty bad. As in, should-be-pulled-from-the-market bad. I knew it was too good to be true...

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